As a bit of a tech geek, I’m always interested in what equipment the Pros are using.
While I know and fully accept that they are paid to use and promote their sponsor's products, the riders are daily users of products so it’s a good way of seeing if something will stand the test of time.
The GPS cycling computer market used to be dominated by Garmin and I must admit to being a sheep and following all the pros that used them. I’ve always used Garmin and while my Edge 820 is still going, it will soon need replacing. As the number of alternatives in the pro peloton has really grown this year, here’s a run-down of who’s using what.
Bahrain Merida, EF Education First, Groupama FDJ, Mitchelton Scott, Movistar, Dimension Data, Sky, Trek Segafredo
By far the biggest list of teams goes to Garmin, so they’ve not lost their grip on the pro peloton just yet.
Having had a look around at a few riders’ Strava pages, there seems to be a mix of older units like the Edge 520 which Ryan Mullen (Trek Segafredo) is still using, through to the Edge 1030 of Michael Kwiatkowski (Team Sky).
The dominance that Garmin currently enjoys may well be very short-lived. Trek have cycling computers through Bontrager and Sky have Wahoo as a sponsor so these companies might be looking to muscle their way into these big teams.
Bontrager did announce their own branded Edge 1030 but since we first saw it in August last year, we've heard nothing.
Bora Hansgrohe, Katusha Alpecin
One of the most serious challengers to Garmin’s crown still only have two World Tour teams to their name.
The Elemnt seems to be the most popular choice and it’s gone through a few changes since George Hill first reviewed it in 2016. The newer Elemnt Bolt is smaller and now features the 'back to start' navigation along with proper turn-by-turn routing. There are also loads more data fields and you've got the ability to download routes via Bluetooth.
A classically Belgian pro team goes for the classic pro’s choice. There’s no navigation option, or touchscreen here, just data.
The PC8 is a very simple unit designed to display data very clearly. That makes it much easier to see training numbers in the middle of a lung-burning interval.
That said, this will likely only appeal to racers as other computers boast apps and mapping ability.
Take a little look at Romain Bardet’s Strava rides and two things are surprising. Firstly, he is one of the only Grand Tour contenders to share his power data and secondly, he’s recording it all on Lezyne’s Mega C.
The Mega XL boasts a huge 48-hour battery life. That's very useful for those of us that don't want to be recharging after every single ride.
The American company have secured the long-standing French team and the Mega C and XL should do well in races.
One of the lesser-known GPS units out there is the Neostrack from bike manufacturer Giant. It looks like a pretty basic unit with the standard ANT+ and BLE connectivity.
But delve a little deeper and the massive 33-hour battery life and auto-uploads will make life easier for a very tired CCC pro.
One of the more interesting sponsorship changes this year has seen the arrival of Bryton into the pro peloton. Supplying the top-ranked UCI team is Bryton’s tactic for advertising their new Aero60 computer.
The 2.3” display can show up to 10 data fields on a black and white screen. Connectivity is done via the standard ANT+ and BLE while the mobile app looks to be one of the best for setting up and changing the data screens.
Oh, and it is also aero, 33% more so than previous Bryton computers. If that even matters. Really, the most notable thing is that it's taken Bryton this long to make their way into the Pro Peloton. It can't be a cheap marketing tool, but it's still a surprise given how long Bryton has been in the GPS computer game.
Rather like SRM, Pioneer have designed a head unit, the catchily named ‘SGX-CA500’, to work alongside their power meter.
Again, this is one that only those wanting performance data will be interested in as the display is basic and there are very few functions beyond data display. The trump card that this has is its integration with Pioneer's power meter. Used together and you'll get data on force points through the pedal stroke and figures that show your efficiency.
One that we’ve not seen much of is Sigma. They’re back with their Rox 12, a very interesting looking device that runs on an Android platform. The 3” touchscreen is a decent size and there are a whole host of options for navigation.
That navigation looks really easy to use and as it’s running OpenStreet maps, you’ll get detailed mapping for pretty much anywhere in the world.
This is definitely one that we want to test.
UAE Team Emirates
Stages brought out the Dash a while back, it was 2017 in fact! It’s a bit of a mix between data-focussed units like the SRM PC8 and the Garmin 1030. There is the benefit of the Stages Link training platform, but you miss out on Strava Live and proper mapping.
We could, however, be very close to an updated model.
Without an official sponsor
And that leaves us with poor old Astana who don’t seem to be sponsored by anyone. It does look like they’re using Garmin’s Edge 520 units though, so at least they’re able to get their KoMs!
Could the lack of computer sponsor have driven them to do that rap? Who knows.
So there we go, possibly the widest range of computer brands that we’ve ever seen in the pro ranks but the scene is still dominated by Garmin. The fact that other brands are using Android platforms should mean that their touchscreens are easier to use.
The next big step forward that I, personally, hope to see is a dramatic reduction in the bezel size on some of these computers. Combine that with the increased functionality of touchscreens and we'll be getting closer to smartphone standards.
Do you take direction from what the pros are using? Let us know below.
Son of a Marathon runner, Nephew of a National 24hr Champion, the racing genetics have completely passed him by. Liam spends his time plodding his way through cyclocross races, very busy not winning. As an advocate for perfectly clean chains, he can be found cleaning his bike instead of training. A shop mechanic, Liam has many helpful skills, such as being able to identify 'cross tubs by the tread pattern alone. If you bump into him, he'll probably be eating.